With a small area of 20000 square kilometres and a population of only 2 million, Slovenia has nevertheless a broad tourism appeal and the government has implemented an ambitious tourism marketing and development strategy, boosting international arrivals to nearly 2.5 million by 2006. The country was economically advanced compared to most of the former Yugoslavia, and its state carrier, Adria Airways, has energetically promoted business travel from Western Europe to replace the loss of Yugoslav markets for its products. Although Slovenia has only a short stretch of Adriatic coastline, this includes the popular resort of Portoroz and the seaports of Piran and Koper with their Venetianstyle architecture. Other attractions include the spectacular and much-visited network of caves at Postojna, the equestrian centre at Lipica and a number of themed touring routes. Austrian infl uence is particularly evident in the attractive capital, Ljubljana, and in the mountain villages of the Julian Alps, which resemble those of the Tyrol. Winter sports facilities have long been established at Kranjska Gora, Bovec and Rogla, while the lake resorts of Bled and Bohinj provide a range of summer activities.
MONTENEGRO (CRNA GORA)
Montenegro’s biggest asset is its section of the Adriatic Coast, which includes some good beaches and the magnifi cent fjord-like Gulf of Kotor. International-style resorts were developed in the 1960s at Budva and Sveti Stefan –which is unique in being a one-time fi shing village converted to a luxury hotel complex. The interior of Montenegro, with its stony mountains, deep gorges and ‘ eagles nest ’villages, is very different from the lush greenery of the coast. The former capital, Cetinje, is a reminder that Montenegro was an independent kingdom before the First World War, and this small city, approached by a spectacular road, is one of the curiosities of the Balkans. Inbound tourism has suffered from the effects of the sanctions directed at the Serbian regime in Belgrade and the Kosovo refugee crisis in 1999, and for a time the industry was dependent on holidaymakers from Serbia. Since regaining independence from Serbia in 2006, Montenegro has focused on Western markets and tried to develop products other than beach tourism. The former Yugoslav/Soviet naval base at Tivat has been transformed into an up-market resort with marina facilities for wealthy tourists, while prime seafront sites are being bought for second homes by Russians and other foreign developers taking advantage of weak planning controls. Some see it as ironic that Montenegrins, who fought so hard to maintain their independence from the Ottoman Empire, risk losing their birthright to international tourism.
Serbia’s tourism industry has been handicapped by its landlocked situation, and throughout the 1990s by economic sanctions, culminating in the NATO bombing raids of 1999. Prior to the break-up of Yugoslavia, Belgrade, as the capital of the federation, was a major business and conference centre, and Serbia received a large volume of transit traffi c en route to Greece or Turkey. Winter sports facilities were developed at Kopaonik and Zlatibor, but these attracted little attention from foreign tour operators. The Vojvodina region north of the Danube is mostly fertile lowland landscapes similar to those of Hungary, and quite different to the rest of the country, which is hilly or mountainous. Serbia’s cultural heritage includes a number of medieval Orthodox monasteries –Studenica and Sopocani are World Heritage Sites –but again these are little appreciated in the West compared to the art treasures of Croatia. The cities of Belgrade and Novi Sad have promoted festival tourism to attract visitors, and this may explain why Serbia took the hosting of the 2008 Eurovision song contest so seriously, as it marked the return to international acceptance after years of ostracism. The future of tourism will depend to an extent on political stability, the curbing of extreme nationalist movements, and not least, whether Serbia can come to terms with the independence of Kosovo.
This part of the former Yugoslavia, smaller than Yorkshire in area, is predominantly Albanian in language and culture. Its independence in 2008 was recognised by the USA and most EU countries, but not by China and Russia, and it is probable that a NATO military presence will continue to be necessary to protect the Serb community and other ethnic minorities. Tourism resources are limited to a number of Orthodox monasteries and a small ski resort. The ‘ Field of Blackbirds ’ close to the capital, Pristina, is a heritage site of great signifi cance for the Serbs, as the battlefi eld where they suffered a catastrophic defeat by the Turks in 1389. MACEDONIA Provisionally known as FYRM –the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia –in deference to Greece, this small country was the poorest region of Yugoslavia before independence. The re-opening of the Greek border has allowed Macedonia to develop its trade and fl edgling tourism industry. This is based not so much on Skopje the capital, which was rebuilt after a major earthquake in 1963, but on Ohrid, which is scenically located on the deepest lake in Europe.
Bosnia’s war-ravaged economy and refugee crises have allowed even less scope for tourism than the other republics and considerable reconstruction is needed. The 1995 Dayton Agreement secured an uneasy peace after three years of civil war on the basis of power-sharing between the three principal ethnic groups –the Muslims, the Croats and the Serbs. In the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia’s diversity of cultures and religions was no small part of its appeal for foreign visitors, most of whom were based in Dubrovnik and other holiday resorts on the Adriatic coast. Tourists were particularly attracted to the old Turkish quarter of Sarajevo, and the picturesque Turkish bridge over the River Neretva at Mostar, a casualty of the civil war which was restored in 2005. The federal government also invested heavily in Sarajevo as the venue for the 1984 Winter Olympics, as part of its policy to spread the benefi ts of tourism from the coast to the mountainous interior. Sarajevo does host an important fi lm festival, which had its beginnings during the 1995 siege of the city. Pilgrimages to Medjugorje continue to fl ourish, despite a lack of government encouragement or, for that matter, approval by the Vatican. Since 1981 this obscure Croat village in Herzegovina has attracted well over 30 million Roman Catholics, making it a shrine of worldwide signifi cance.
Bulgaria is a small country in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, which is best known in Western Europe for budget-priced beach and skiing holidays. It does, however, offer a great variety of scenery and is rich in the remains of many civilisations. The country is traversed from east to west by several thickly forested mountain ranges, rising to over 2000 metres, which attract heavy snowfalls in winter. Between the mountains lie fertile valleys enjoying a warm sunny climate which have given Bulgaria its reputation as ‘ the market garden of Eastern Europe ’ , producing fi ne tobacco and the famous perfume known as ‘ attar of roses ’ . Before the violent break-up of Yugoslavia, the country received a good deal of transit tourism due to its location on the E5 route from Belgrade to Istanbul. Proximity to Turkey in the past was a disadvantage, resulting in Bulgaria being submerged in the Ottoman Empire for several centuries. It regained its independence, with Russian help, in 1878 –a fact commemorated by the elaborate Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofi a. Despite the presence of Turkish and Pomak (native Muslim) minorities, the Islamic contribution to the cultural heritage has been neglected. Restoration projects have focused instead on the ‘ museum towns ’such as Veliki Turnovo, which played a major role in the medieval period or in the National Revival leading to independence. The country was one of Europe’s poorest and most underdeveloped before the Second World War, with over 80 per cent of the population employed in agriculture.
The development of an industrial economy since the 1950s has greatly improved living standards, while the introduction of the two-day weekend encouraged the ownership of second homes, which are situated mainly around the capital Sofi a and on the Black Sea coast. As in other East European countries, spas play an important role, the most popular being Sandanski, Kustendil, Hissarya and Velingrad. However, throughout the 1990s the country suffered a severe economic crisis, which has depressed the demand for domestic as well as outbound tourism, although inbound tourism has grown steadily to around 3 million international trips annually. Bulgaria recognised the importance of tourism as a source of hard currency in the 1960s and concluded agreements with a number of Western tour operators. Balkantourist was the state agency responsible for international tourism, owning most of the large stock of hotel accommodation, particularly on the Black Sea coast. As a result, most Western visitors are on low-budget inclusive packages and the rate of return per individual tourist is small. Since the collapse of the Zhivkov regime in 1989 Bulgaria has moved towards a free-market economy, encouraging joint ventures with Western hotel and banking enterprises and encouraging investment in transport and tourism infrastructure. The Ministry of Economy implements tourism policy, working with the Bulgarian national tourist board and various industry organisations. They are supported by a regional and local network of tourist organisations. We can identify three key resources that Bulgaria can offer the visitor: 1. The beaches of the Black Sea coast; 2. Skiing in the mountains; 3. Culture and ecology for special interest tourism. The Black Sea coast of Bulgaria receives the majority of tourists in the country and is the location of almost two-thirds of the bed stock. It is scenically more varied than that of Romania with fi ne beaches that are ideal for family holidays. Resort development has centred around Varna in the north –where Zlatni Pyasatsi (Golden Sands), Albena, and Drouzhba are the main resorts –and Bourgas in the south –where Slunchev Bryag (Sunny Beach) is the most popular centre. Most of these resorts offer international entertainments and are rather characterless; however, the holiday village of Dyuni has been developed in a more traditional style. Since the 1990s some of the accommodation has been upgraded to meet international quality standards by Spanish and other western hotel chains. Bulgaria is also a winter sports destination with major resorts at Borovets and Bansko in the Pirin Mountains; Aleko on Mount Vitosha which caters for large numbers of weekend skiers from nearby Sofi a and Pamporovo in the Rhodope Massif. However, facilities, although improving, are not as sophisticated as those of the Alps, and the Balkan ranges cannot offer the high-altitude skiing favoured by Western tour operators. There is more scope for future development in promoting special interest holidays. These include ‘ eco-paths ’ , spas, wine tours, musical folklore (the country is noted for its fi ne choirs), archaeology (the Thracian civilisation was probably the earliest in Europe) and caving. Bulgaria is also noted for its monasteries, often situated in remote mountain settings where the Orthodox Church preserved the national identity during the centuries of Ottoman rule. The most famous of these are those of Rila to the south of Sofi a and Boyana on the outskirts of the capital. For such cultural tourism to be successful, more attention needs to be paid to improving accessibility and visitor management facilities to a standard appropriate for Western tourists.
Romania is the largest country in the Balkan region, with a population of over 23 million. The Romanian people regard themselves as different –Latins surrounded by Slavs –but although in language and temperament they are akin to Italians, their religion is Orthodox, and the climate is defi nitely continental, with severely cold winters, rather than Mediterranean. The forested Carpathian Mountains divide the country in a great horseshoe-shaped arc, separating picturesque Transylvania from the broad plains of Wallachia to the south and the rolling plateau of Moldavia to the east. Whereas Wallachia and Moldavia were separate principalities on the fringes of the Ottoman Empire until 1858, Transylvania was part of Hungary until 1918. As a result, Transylvania has substantial Magyar and German minorities who differ in religion as well as language from the Romanians. There are also perhaps 2 million Roma or gypsies who form a marginalised group in society (as elsewhere in Eastern Europe) but who play an important role in Romanian folklore. After the Communist takeover in 1947, Romania experienced considerable industrialisation and urbanisation. Nevertheless, traditional peasant lifestyles persist, despite the attempts by Ceau ç escu in the 1980s to create a ‘ new socialist man ’by replacing villages with apartment blocks. Domestic tourism is said to have increased tenfold between 1965 and 1987, although it is probable that much of this was group travel, including youth organisations. During the 1960s, the Romanian government embarked on a major investment programme for the Black Sea coast, creating a number of new holiday resorts. In 1971 a Ministry of Tourism and Sport was established, and the state tourism organisation ONT and its subsidiary Carpati set out to increase numbers of visitors from the West as well as from other socialist countries. During the 1970s, they were successful in attracting Western tour operators. However, after 1979 the economic situation in Romania deteriorated and the Ceau ç escu regime became increasingly repressive. As a result, tourism receipts fell by 40 per cent between 1981 and 1986. The violent overthrow of Ceau ç escu in December 1989 was followed by a slow progress toward economic reform. In a bid to upgrade standards and facilities by attracting investment, the Romanian Ministry of Transport, Construction and Tourism implemented a ‘ master plan for tourism ’covering key elements of the industry. These mainly focus on two contrasting areas –the Black Sea coast, and the Carpathian Mountains in the north-west of the country. The fl at Black Sea coast forms part of the Dobruja region and is scenically the least interesting part of Romania, but offering broad, gently shelving beaches and a holiday season lasting from mid-May to September, it has become the main destination for foreign holidaymakers, and accounts for the majority of all bedspaces. Mamaia is the largest resort, situated on a sandspit between the sea and an extensive lagoon. Like the tourist complexes of Aurora, Jupiter, Neptune, Venus and Saturn, it offers a variety of accommodation and sports facilities. The older resort of Eforie with its mud-bathing establishments is well known for health tourism. Further